A San Luis Obispo entrepreneur who made major waves in the cannabis industry has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison for bribing a county commissioner and filing false income on his tax returns.
Helios Raphael “Bobby” Dayspring, 36, was sentenced in federal court Friday and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Dayspring was a prominent business owner, operator and partner in a number of cannabis companies on the Central Coast, including grow operations and storefronts.
In July 2021, Dayspring agreed to plead guilty to charges that he bribed a former San Luis Obispo County commissioner in order to receive influence and favorable votes that could affect his business interests.
The commissioner, identified only as a deceased commissioner of San Luis Obispo County’s Third District, received approximately $32,000 in exchange for his votes and influence, the DOJ said. Most of the money was paid in cash and payments were made from late 2016 through November 2019.
The Third District supervisor at the time was Adam Hill, a longtime Democratic politician in San Luis Obispo County who took his own life in August 2020 amid an ongoing FBI investigation that he said he was aware of and cooperating with.
Dayspring also admitted to attempting to bribe another political figure in SLO County. The then-mayor of Grover Beach was offered $100,000 by Dayspring in exchange for two dispensary licenses in the city. The mayor at the time, John Shoals, although not directly named in the DOJ release, refused the bribe, investigators said.
In addition to his bribes, both successful and unsuccessful, Dayspring significantly underreported his income on his tax returns, federal investigations found.
From 2014 to 2018, Dayspring underreported his income that resulted in the IRS losing more than $3.4 million. In the 2018 tax year, he reported his taxable income as $1.2 million, when in reality he earned more than $6.5 million in income.
In his sentencing memorandum, prosecutors described Dayspring as solely focused on building “a cannabis empire,” a goal that saw him willing to do anything to see come to fruition.
“To accomplish that goal, he would not let anything get in his way, including the law,” prosecutors wrote.
Dayspring will now serve 22 months in federal prison for his crimes of bribery and tax evasion. The sentence is a far cry from the max sentence he could have faced, which the DOJ said was 13 years in prison.
At the time of his arrest, the FBI said Dayspring was cooperating with an “ongoing public corruption investigation in San Luis Obispo County,” although the status of that investigation is unclear at this time.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS.
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